Thursday, October 04, 2007

Bureau of Prisons Re-shelves Religion Books | Liveblog | Christianity Today

Bureau of Prisons Re-shelves Religion Books | Liveblog | Christianity Today:
"The federal Bureau of Prisons will return religious materials that were removed from prison chapel libraries to prevent religious extremism, according to the Associated Press.

The purged books that were removed included Christian discipleship materials (see CT’s first story).

The material removed since June will be returned to prison chapel libraries unless it is found to be radicalizing or inciting violence. By June 2008, 'what comes off the shelves will be a very, very small number, because the vast majority of material will be on the 'that's OK list,'' bureau spokeswoman Judi Simon Garrett told the AP."
When this story first broke a few weeks ago, it sure seemed as if all religions were being tagged with the excesses of a very small minority. While it is entirely understandable that materials that advocate hate and violence are not appropriate in (or out) of the prison system, there can be little argument that religion can be a positive force in prison.

The restoration of religious books to the libraries is a positive development, especially in an environment where people have issues with anger and dealing with others.

An important caveat, though, is that materials will be scrutinized and decisions will be made as to the appropriateness of the materials. This raises the specter of censorship. If the Bureau of Prisons is going to limit the materials that advocate violence, that is one thing, but if the Bureau branches out into limiting materials based on whether they agree with the theology, than that is quite another.

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